Disturbing YouTube video shows dozens ignoring domestic violence in a lift

Social experiment shows people ignoring assaults happening in front of them

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The Independent Online

A Swedish social experiment has laid bare some uncomfortable truths about how the public reacts when confronted with domestic abuse.

A group called STHLM Panda secretly filmed two couples in lifts with other people for their video ‘abused in the elevator (social experiment)’.

Konrad Ydhage, co-creator of STHLM Panda, said he designed the experiment to raise awareness about domestic violence and to see if people would intervene "when you really have to".

The distressing video shows dozens of people ignoring two women being abused both verbally and physically just a few feet away from unresponsive bystanders.

In one instance, a woman is shoved against a wall and grabbed by the neck. In another, a man appears to slap his companion and audibly threatens to kill her. The other person sharing the lift says nothing and quickly exits the elevator.

Only one woman out of 53 people intervened by warning the man: “I’m gonna call the police if you touch her again”. Everyone else ignored the altercation and exited the lift without commenting. 

Shockingly, one woman only responded to ask the couple: "Excuse me - can you let me get out of here before you do that".

Mr Ydhage told The Independent: "We spoke to almost all of the people in the lift afterwards. Most of them said they felt ashamed of themselves for not reacting and said they were glad it was an experiment.

"Some people claimed they were going to call the police, but we think that that is lie. We filmed it over two days and the police never showed up once."

Domestic violence will affect one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime, according to figures by Living With Abuse. Two women are killed by domestic violence each week on average in the UK, while 30 men die as a result of abuse each year.

It also has more repeat victims than any other crime - there will have been 35 domestic assaults before a victim calls the police.

Only one person reacted out of 53

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said anyone confronted with incidences of domestic violence should immediately call police, instead of directly intervening.

“Domestic violence is very rarely a one-off incident - it’s a pattern of abusive behaviour, and if you see an attack it is likely that it has started before you see an incident and will almost certainly continue afterwards," she said.

"If you see an incident of domestic violence, always call the police rather than intervening, as it could put you directly at risk. It could also make the abuse worse, or if the victim is frightened of her abuser she may also turn against you out of fear.

"However, just because we would advise not becoming directly involved doesn’t mean you should ignore it. By reporting domestic violence, you still have an important role to play.”